A GROUP fighting to improve services for the blind has criticised a new centre for people with disabilities.
Jean Goodison, chairman of Better Future for the Blind, said the Highfields Resource Centre in Edgerton does not properly cater for the needs of those with disabilities.
The Newsome woman said there is poor access to the site at Cemetery Road and people visiting the centre could be in danger from busy traffic travelling down nearby Egerton Road.
The £3m centre opened earlier this month and offers a range of activities for adults with learning difficulties.
Jean, 69, said: “The lack of access is putting lives at risk – not just for disabled or blind people but for able-bodied people too.
“There is no place to cross safely to the centre and both Halifax Road and Edgerton Road are very busy roads.
“You cannot assume that people going into the building will be using their own transport – especially the blind or the disabled.”
Two years before the centre was built, Jean and other members of Better Future for the Blind conducted a health and safety report of the area and handed it to Kirklees Council.
Jean said: “We walked from Huddersfield bus station up to where the new Highfields Centre would be and did a report identifying a lot of problems with the access.
“Even though we did the report two years ago, the centre was opened and there is no crossing there.
“When you go down Cemetery Road to the building it is dark and hazardous.
“And when you get to the building itself there is a very narrow path that takes you into the reception and there are no hand rails.”
Jean visited the site again after the centre was built with other members of the group.
Partially-sighted Bernadette Kielty fell over a flower pot on the narrow pavement leading up to the entrance.
Jean said the path has lots of obstacles on it and there vehicles parked next to have bodywork and bumpers overhanging it.
She added: “We are starting a new campaign to get things put right.”
A spokesman for Kirklees Council said: “The development of Highfields will continue to consider the needs of all groups of people using the building and will look further at access to the site and how the centre as a whole could be improved.
“Over the next 12 months there will be improvements and additions in response to the needs of those who use it.
“The building is fully accessible for people with a disability and has level access with an open entrance and wide corridors..
“It features overhead tracking to support the movement and handling needs of people with physical disabilities, a state-of-the-art sensory room and a kitchen with adjustable height equipment.
“Signs have been produced for people with a visual impairment and work on the gardens includes developing good safe access for wheelchair-users and people with visual impairments and mobility difficulties.
“The pavements and driveway into Highfields have been improved and more lighting has also been installed at the entrance.
“Highfields was designed to meet the needs of all the community including people with a disability.
“People who use our services, their families and carers have been involved in the project and have put forward their comments.”